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On the selection of optimal turns ratio for transformers in isolated DC/DC

boost full bridge converter



Luigi Rubino, Beniamino Guida, Pompeo Marino and Alberto Cavallo
Second University of Naples
luigi.rubino@unina2.it, beniamino.guida@unina2.it, pompeo.marino@unina2.it, alberto.cavallo@unina2.it

Reference topic: Power Electronics Converter Topologies and Control

Abstract- This document aims to describe a rigorous approach to
correctly select the optimal turns ratio for a transformer
involved in an isolated DC/DC boost full bridge converter
realization, considering the input/output voltage ranges, the
modulation scheme adopted and the efficiency constraints. The
topological structure is first introduced, outlining the hardware
components used. The step-down (or Buck) and step-up (or
Boost) modulations are then briefly discussed, focusing mainly
on the input/output relations in both operative modes. These
equations are assumed as the starting point for the core
discussion of this paper, about the selection of the transformer
turns ratio. The problem is approached independently first in
Buck mode, then in Boost mode. In particular, the ideal situation
is first considered, introducing then a corrective factor for
taking into account the dissipative losses due to parasitical
effects. Finally, the partial results obtained are merged in a
conclusive phase, where a single turns ratio have to be chosen
due to the bi-directionality of the converter. The methodology
proposed has been successfully tested in SABER simulative
environment, before the realization phase; measurements on the
real converter evidence the correctness of the proposed
approach, arising as a general procedure to select a transformer
involved in DC/DC conversion strategy, in the context of a boost
full bridge topology.

I. INTRODUCTION
The authors were involved in a task of the project in order to
design and realize an high performances [1],[2] boost full
bridge dc-dc converter. This last is a 12kW bi-directional
buck boost converter unit (BBCU) that interfaces two dc
networks with high voltage difference.
The low side voltage (LVDC) is 28V and the high side
voltage (HVDC) is 270V. The converter operates in two
modes: Buck or step-down, when it converts a higher into a
lower DC voltage, or Boost (step-up), if it works conversely.
The normal operation condition of the converter is the buck
mode in order to keep charged the battery on 28V bus. If
power demand came from high voltage bus, the converter is
able to switch in boost mode and supply the high voltage
bus.
In design phase for boost full bridge topology converters [3],
the transformer role in the conversion process aforementioned
is critical and requires special attention. In fact, an erroneous
transformer sizing leads to incorrect power electronic
components choices, obtaining as a global effect the
unfulfillment of the required specifications.
Several aspects have to be considered in optimal turns ratio
selection, and a trade-off is necessary referring to various
constraints hereafter reported:

- Output voltage within acceptable range, despite to input
voltage instantaneous value (however included in a selected
range) as required by well-known standards [4],[5].
- Duty cycle values in the neighborhood of the maximum
efficiency point, depending on the operative mode.
- Reduced size and weight, in order to facilitate the
integration of the converter in applications where the
equipment compactness is a main target (e.g. aeronautical).

The presented paper introduces a general criterion to select an
optimal turns ratio for transformers involved in boost full
bridge converters, referring to the main objectives
abovementioned during the exposition of the selection
process.


II. TRANSFORMER ROLE IN DC/DC CONVERTER MODULE

The DC/DC converter overall scheme is reported in Fig. 1.

LVDC
GND
HVDC
GND
R1
C1
L1
L2
L3
L4
LV1
LV2
LV3
LV4
HV1
HV2
HV3
HV4
R2
R3
C2
L5 DC/DC
DC/DC
DC/DC
DC/DC

Fig. 1 Scheme of the DC/DC converter

In the schematic the single BBCU modules are highlighted.
As shown in Fig. 1, the blocks are connected in PIPO mode
978-1-4244-7919-1/10/$25.00 2010 IEEE
SPEEDAM 2010
International Symposium on Power Electronics,
Electrical Drives, Automation and Motion
39
[1],[6], linking the modules in parallel both on HV side and
on the LV side.
A single full bridge internal structure is reported in Fig. 2.

LVi
GND
HVi
GND
S1
R2a
C2a
R1a
C1a
R4a
C4a
R3a
C3a
P1
R2b
C2b
R1b
C1b
S2
S3
S4
R4b
C4b
R3b
C3b
P2
P3
P4

Fig. 2 Single converter module

The switches of both the full-bridges are controlled in two
different ways, depending on the mode of operation and on
duty-cycle value.
In both operative modes, two independent PWM signals
produced by FPGA are synchronized in order to obtain 180
phase shift [3].
When the duty-cycle is less than 0.5, the modulation ensures
a path for the eddy current on the primary of the transformer.
In the step-up mode, i.e. with a duty-cycle greater than 0.5,
there is a phase in the switch period in which all the switches
of the full-bridge are closed, as a necessary condition to
guarantee the boost condition.
In both modes, the voltage on the primary of the transformer
looks similar to the waveform obtained using a voltage
cancellation technique, [7] as shown in the next figure.

4 5 6 7 8 9 10
x 10
-5
-400
-200
0
200
400
time [s]
A
V

[
V
]

Fig. 3 Typical input waveform to the transformer
To perform step-down and step-up conversions on the same
hardware, an unique turns ratio has to be selected and certain
constraints on the output voltage range and on efficiency have
to be satisfied. It is necessary to point out that the best choice
in one mode is often a non-optimal solution for the other
mode; the sizing criterion illustrated in Section III offers a
solution to select a satisfactory turns ratio value in both step-
up or step-down modes.
III. OPTIMAL TURNS RATIO SELECTION: PRELIMINARY
CONSIDERATIONS

A) Boost mode

The relationship (at steady state and in CCM mode) between
input voltage, output voltage and duty cycle in step-up mode
is well known in literature for a boost full-bridge, and
reported as follows:


) 1 ( 2 o
=
k
V
V
i
O
(1)

where
i
V is the input voltage (LV side),
o
V the output
voltage (HV side), k is the turns ratio and o the duty cycle.
From (1) immediately follows the turns ratio definition:

( ) o I = 1 2 k (2)

where
i
o
V
V
= I
. The selection problem is well-posed if the
acceptable ranges for both input and output voltages are
defined. Without loss of generality, it is possible to assume
[20-30] V as low-voltage values, and [260-280] V for high
side; these ranges are established referring to aeronautical
field applications.
Considering the parameter I , follows that | | 14 6 . 8 e I . In
boost full bridge converters, a typical duty cycle o range
is | | 8 . 0 5 . 0 ; the two-variable function (2), assuming the
abovementioned constraints on the domain values, is
graphically solved as follows:



Fig. 4 Turns ratio vs. duty and I parameter
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As evident, the k value lies between 4
min
= k and
14
max
= k . To obtain this result the power losses are not
considered, leading to an ideal case. For this reason, a
corrective factor has to be introduced in (2) as follows:

( )

o
1
1 2 I = k
(3)

If the transformer is well manufactured, it is sufficient to
select 9 . 0 = to obtain a reasonable oversizing margin.
It is now possible to solve (3) for the lower and upper duty
cycle bounds, respectively 5 . 0
min
= o and 8 . 0
max
= o ,
solving the equations system next stated:

( )
( )

I >
I s

o
1
1 2
1
1 2
max max
min min
k
k
(4)

These inequality can be represented as in the next figure:

Fig. 5 Turns ratio for maximum and minimum duty cycles

where all the solutions lies in the highlighted area of the
graph. The solution range, at the moment, is extremely wide;
since it depends on the maximum and minimum duty cycle
value, as evident in Fig. 5, is possible to reduce the area by
considering only the optimal operative points. In fact, for a
boost full bridge converter operating in boost mode, the
efficiency in terms of amount of electrical power available at
the high-voltage terminals is non-linearly related to the duty
cycle, and beyond a critical value it collapses. A typical
efficiency graph for the outlined topology is next reported:

Fig. 6 Efficiency of boost full bridge converter in Boost mode
measured on the prototype realized with k=6
For this reason 6 . 0
min_
=
opt
o and 77 . 0
max_
=
opt
o are
selected as new duty cycle range. Note that the reference
graph in Fig. 6 will be justified and replaced by a set of
experimental measurements in the last section of this paper.
Consequently, the equation set (4) can be solved obtaining the
following results:

>
s
14 . 7
63 . 7
k
k
(5)


B) Buck mode

It is possible to repeat the same steps of Boost mode to obtain
the inequalities system as in (5). For step-down mode, the
relationship between input and output voltage with respect to
the duty cycle is:

o 2
k
V
V
i
o
= (6)

For Buck case, the output voltage range is [27,30] V and the
input is [260,280] V. Rewriting (6) in a more convenient
form:

o I = 2 k (7)

where | | 4 . 10 6 . 8 e = I
o
i
V
V
.
Exactly as in the following paragraph, selecting 1 . 1 = a
reasonable oversizing margin is guaranteed. Again, the turns
ratio formula is rewritten as:

Efficiency vs. duty cycle
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
0,74 0,75 0,76 0,77 0,78
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o I = 2 k (8)

A graph similar to Fig. 5 can be derived from relation (8), and
is next reported:
2 4 6 8 10 12
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
I
k
o
min
o
MAX

Fig. 7 Turns ratio for maximum and minimum duty cycles
The turns ratio is now directly proportional to the duty cycle;
the inequalities system to be considered follows:

I s
I >
o
o
max max
min min
2
2
k
k
(9)

Also for Buck mode it is possible to consider an optimal duty
range to maximize the efficiency; typical values for the
outlined converter topology are 35 . 0
min_
=
opt
o and
48 . 0
max_
=
opt
o . Then the system (9) is solved as follows:

s
>
08 . 11
68 . 6
k
k
(10)

Comparing (5) and (10), the overlapping of the sustainable
values for k parameter in both modes is evident, leading to (5)
as the unique solution for the turns ratio selection problem.
Following the outlined approach, a turns ratio of 5 . 7 = k
has been selected for the equipment under study.


IV. KEY POINTS ON OPTIMAL TURNS RATIO SELECTION

The preliminary study phase of Sec. III has led to relation
(5) and (10), and following to the selection of 7.5 as an
optimal turns ratio for the converter under study. These
results have to be confirmed and refined with a further phase,
taking into account also the experimental results. The
efficiency depends on the transformer power losses, which
can vary due to the modulation frequency. In fact, is well
known that exists a frequency range where the transformer
magnetic core behavior is more efficient in terms of heat
losses. The considerations of Sec. III about the optimal duty
cycle range can be confirmed (or refined) by simulations and
further calculations, taking into account the frequency effect
on the transformer conversion process.
Furthermore, the switching elements in both full bridges of
the converter are not ideal. In particular, the power losses
linked to these elements will decrease the overall efficiency,
and it is possible to find a direct relationship with the duty
cycle. Considering together this new equation and the already
obtained, the duty cycle optimal range can be refined and the
optimal turns ratio updated.


V. SIMULATIONS AND EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS
Once selected an optimal turn ratio k, simulations and
measurements on the real equipment have to be performed in
order to validate the selection strategy. A dedicated
transformer has been realized for the application. In order to
reduce iron losses, ferrite cores without air-gap have been
used; incidentally, note that a ferrite core is characterized by a
maximum value of magnetic induction before saturation. The
ferrite material, the core size, the number of turns, and the
switching frequency were chosen so that the transformer is
able to work within its linear region, at any operative
conditions.


Fig. 8 Prototype of a 3 kW single cell
Each cell has been tested at full power in both modes (step
up/down). The next figure shows the voltage across the
primary and secondary of the transformer, and the current
ripple in the boost inductor of a module.
-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5
x 10
-5
-500
-250
0
250
500
V
H

[
V
]
-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5
x 10
-5
-100
-50
0
50
100
V
L

[
V
]
-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5
x 10
-5
-20
0
20
M 10 s
c
u
r
r
e
n
t

r
i
p
p
l
e

[
A
]

Fig. 9 Measured waveform under step-up mode operation with
V
L
=20V, V
O
=270V, P=3kW, k=7.5
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Two different prototypes of transformer have been tested,
(k=6, 7.5) and several test critical conditions (i.e. maximum
output voltage required vs. minimum input voltage available)
have been planned .Experimental results show that in step-up
mode efficiency of the module drops down when k=6, due to
the high value of the duty cycle and consequent high losses of
the switches. In step-down mode, both prototypes show an
elevate efficiency value, so the best choice between the turns
ratio hypothesis is k=7.5; the next figure shows the correct
response of the converter in boost mode, under different
loads, where the transduced input current (61 A/V) is reported
in yellow, in blue is the HV output voltage and in magenta
the LV input voltage is shown.
.

Fig. 10 Final test of the converter in boost mode, with different
steps of load (1/3, 2/3, full power).

VI. CONCLUSION
An optimal selection procedure has been discussed, in order
to calculate a correct turn ratio of a transformer involved in
boost/full bridge bidirectional converters realization. The
results have been first validated in a simulative environment,
and successively during a second testing phase, where a real
hardware equipment has been adopted to show the
compliance between simulative results and real
measurements. Both tests confirm the correct choice of the
turn ratio.
Due to the increasing interest of the scientific community
about even more specific converters, in order to manage bi-
directional power flows, the need of a methodical approach
for transformers turns ratio selection arises.
For this reason, it is important to evidence that, without loss
of generality, it is possible to repeat the same steps for
optimal turns ratio selection referring to a generic DC/DC
isolated full bridge converter, starting from the requirements
and taking into account its constitutive relationships.






VII. REFERENCES
[1] Siri K., Willhoff M.A., Uniform Current/Voltage-Sharing for
Interconnected DC-DC Converters, Proc. 2007 IEEE Aerospace
Conference, Piscataway (NJ), March 2007, pp. 1-17.
[2] Q. Zhao, F. C. Lee, High-efficiency, high step-up dc-dc converters,
IEEE Trans. Power Electron., vol. 18, no.1, pp. 65-73, Jan 2003.
[3] X. Jiang, X. Wen, H. Xu , Study on Isolated Full Bridge Converter in
FCEV, Proc. 7th International Power Engineering Conference,
Singapore (Ch), Dec. 2005, Vol.2, pp. 827-830
[4] MIL-STD-704F, Dpt. Of Defense Interface standard, 2004.
[5] ABD0100.1.8, AIRBUS standard, 2002
[6] D.J. Perreault, J.G. Kassakian, Distributed Interleaving of Paralleled
Power Converters, IEEE Trans. On Circuits and Systems, Vol. 44, No.
8, pp. 728734, 1997.
[7] N. Mohan, T. Undeland, W. Robbins, Power Electronics - Converters,
Applications and Design, Second Ed., John Wiley & Sons, New York,
1995.

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